Look Professional Online

How To Look Professional Online

Looking professional online is crucial for any company. In today’s world, your website is your store-front. It’s the first thing people see when looking at your business and we all know people like to judge a book by it’s cover. Below are numerous tips which will help you start on the right foot and leave a lasting impression.

Simple Is Better

Simple Pencil

As Leonardo DiVinci once said, “simplicity is it the ultimate sophistication”. Taken with a pinch of salt, there’s no need to go for a bare-bones design, but simplicity does provide a painless user experience. Overcomplicating a website design floods the user with things to look at making finding and reading information harder, and more likely to leave. You only have 10-20 seconds to capture a visitor, and if they don’t like what they see, they’ll move on to the next website.

Ensure content is well-formatted, easy to read, with precise segmentation when it comes to different topics. Use imagery to break up the page if possible and add context to what you’re saying. Reduce navigation as much as possible to offer smooth flow across topics the user may be looking to find. Not every single part of the design needs a drop shadow.

Clutter-Free Content

Use pages to present information without clutter. Use a single focus or point. Neuroradiology Consulting does a superb job of presenting the information about the company and services they offer. Information is spread across correct pages, laid out clearly, separated with clear headings and imagery.

If you have multiple related points, use subheadings to split information allowing users to scan the page and find what it is they’re looking for quickly.

SEO will also benefit from single focus pages allowing you to target specific keywords and phrases. Search engines don’t respond well to pages stuffed with tonnes of different content. Instead, having pages which represent singular topics, makes it easier for sites like Google to differentiate pages related to your niche. Search engines can then present the best pages to users in search results.

Answer Frequently Asked Questions

When users come to your website, they’re looking for information. A good starting point is to consider the types of information they want. You can then push out content that answers typical questions. This proves your understanding of the topic, keeping the visitor interested in your website and ensures a positive user experience.

Calls-To-Action

It’s good to pair content with direct calls-to-action. Whether the user is looking to find out more, or already knows enough and what’s to get in touch, finding a way to contact you is crucial. Once a customer chooses to make contact, they’re stepping further down the customer journey closing in on becoming a customer. On the other hand, you don’t want to overload visitors with too many CTAs as that may come across unprofessional. Use them appropriately; at the end of content, in your header or footer or wherever else you deem nonintrusive but necessary.

Consistent Design

Providing a consistent design allows people to build familiarity with your site, improves navigation and is more attractive. The flow of your website should remain the same from the get-go allowing people to move without confusion page to page.

Quality Copy

Vast amounts of time is spent on deciding how a website should look leaving copy overlooked. Copy, however, is a critical factor in design. The website can look amazing, but without quality content, people won’t find what they need. It helps answer users questions, promotes what you have to offer and improves SEO by bringing the right types of visitors to your page.

We know how keen people are to correct grammar proving how easy it is to pick up on. The quality of your writing speaks out about your professionalism and portrays what communication with your business will be like. People will judge your professional ability based on the way you ‘speak’ through your website. If not confident in writing, look to hire a professional copywriter.

Think Mobile-First

Mobile First Design

Mobile devices now account for around half overall internet traffic consistently in 2019, and that’s excluding tablet users. The importance of catering to mobile users unavoidable. Many users will start the browsing experience on mobile before going to the website on a desktop. With this in mind, your website must look perfect on mobile as well as desktop. Going to a website on a mobile device to find it unresponsive displaying large images, small text, and all out of proportion the best way to drive a user away from your website. Ensure that as the screen size changes the website responds accordingly. That may mean moving or removing features but do what has to be done to offer a good user experience.

The experience must be the same across all types of devices, no matter the screen size.

Final Thoughts

In business, nobody wants to be seen as unprofessional. With immense competition in almost every niche, we always want to be best and stand out above the crowd. Your website is most likely going to be your first opportunity to leave an impact on your potential customers. If you incorporate the tips mentioned here into your design, you’ll be on the right road.

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A guide to writing the perfect blog post

Blogging is an ideal method of sharing expertise, opinions, recent events or the latest news and can help your business grow by attracting more and new traffic. In fact, content creation for blogs has many possibilities and all can help your company seem more engaging, personal and establish a connection with your consumers.

Metropolitan House use has a blog on its website and posts are shared regularly on social media. Content varies and focuses on different aspects of the business. Sharing their blog posts on social media has proven effective and shown an increase in traffic to their website. In fact, posts that link back to their blogs have demonstrated the highest amount of engagement on Facebook in comparison to other blogs.

According to CoSchedule Blog, businesses that write weekly blogs have a 66% increase in customers. However, in order for your content to increase traffic, it must be interesting and written well. Below we highlight some tips to ensure your blog post successfully engages your audience.

A compelling headline:
According to Hubspot, a captivating headline can increase traffic to your website by 500%. In a matter of words, your blog headline needs to grab your audiences’ attention. When sharing your blog post, your headline is going to be the first aspect your audience will see. Therefore, it is imperative your blog post is worded in a way that encourages them to click and read further. To increase the probability that your audience will read further, consider addressing a pain point or value proposition.

Additionally, a direct and informative headline will perform well on Google and help your posts appear higher up the search rankings. Avoid click-bait style headlines that fail to correctly inform your audience of your content due to sensationalism or exaggeration. Despite bringing you more clicks, you’ll likely annoy your audience which will have negative effects on your traffic long-term.

Sub-headlines:
Sub-headlines allow you to effectively break up your content into easy to read sections. Large sections of text can be off-putting for your audience and cause your bounce rate to increase. Breaking up your text can encourage your audience to quickly see sections of your article which interested them and understand your subject matter quicker. A large amount of your audience will scan your page before deciding whether to read the article, sub-headlines provide more clarity which will mean that more people will be interested.

Bullet-points:
Similarly, bullet-points are easily digestible information which allows you to communicate more effectively to your audience. Bullet points are a great way to break down complex information or to include facts and statistics within your post.

Stay-on-point:
With blogging, it can be easy to go on a tangent, especially with more conversational style posts. However, in order to avoid boring your audience, it is important you stay on point and only include relevant information. Throughout the writing process consider your purpose and make sure every sentence relates to it.

Image:
As a general rule, social media posts with an image often receive the highest amount of engagement. Using images on your blog is also worth doing to increase traffic. Your own images are preferred as it creates a more personal connection with your audience, however, stock imagery can be a good alternative and it is sometimes worth paying the small cost in order to increase your following.

Proofread:
Even professional writers and bloggers can make grammatical errors from time to time. However, it is important that your blog is well-written for your credibility no matter your field. Take a break and return to your work with fresh eyes, you’ll more likely spot mistakes that you’d previously not noticed. Grammar checkers such as Grammarly are also great for checking your grammar is correct throughout.

Length:
To rank well in the search engines, blog posts should be at least 300 words according to Yoast.  However, longer blog posts mean more time spent on your website, which is good for your search engine rankings. Closer to 1000 words would be ideal, however, not everyone has the time or the writing abilities for this and can potentially be an off put to your audience if they see a large amount of text.

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Benefits of latest news on your website

Including a latest news section on your website is beneficial in projecting a sense of professionalism surrounding your brand. To be effective, consistent and quality content is essential when incorporating a blog or latest news section within your web design. If blogging can fit comfortably within your brand strategy, it poses many benefits for the growth of your business.

 

Connect with your audience:

A latest news or blogging section can provide a humanising quality to your brand, offering your audience an insight into your business. Consumer’s respond well to feeling valued and allowing them to feel involved will be beneficial for your conversion rate. For example, Chase Park has recently included a post on new staff so their audience feels more connected and involved with their brand.

 

To excel within this area, ideally, consumers should be able to respond and offer feedback to your content. Allowing responses and even criticism will allow your business to build a community surrounding your brand. Additionally, this offers your business the opportunity to respond to feedback and demonstrate to your audience that you are prepared to act on their feedback.

 

Improves SEO

An important factor when considering whether to include a latest news segment is the impact on SEO. More pages on your website will lead to more pages indexed on search engines and increase the likelihood of appearing in organic searches. With more links to your website, there will likely be an increase in traffic to your site. Additionally, blog posts allow your business to rank for other keywords and therefore appear in more searches. According to Propecta, over 50% of searches are for terms more than four words long. Blog posts appear in more long-tail keyword searches and therefore are likely to improve your SEO. A longer blog post could also be beneficial, as the more time visitors spend on your site the higher you will rank in the search engines.

 

Inform your audience:

Regularly updating your latest news or blog section allows your audience to feel informed of any progression or changes within your business. Not only this, blogging can allow you to input your opinion on a range of subjects. Demonstrating your knowledge to your audience and positioning your brand as an expert in the field is important in establishing a professional profile for your business. Consumers are more likely to respect and trust a company that is evidently demonstrating expertise before they have even used their product or service. In this sense, blogging can differentiate your business from the competition by providing your business’s own interpretation or response to certain subjects in the hope to align with your specific target audience.

 

Identity:

A structured blog consisting of quality content goes a long way to help establish an organised and reputable brand identity. A blog is increasingly becoming an expected norm of a well-rounded and efficient business. Delivering regular new content demonstrates a commitment to consistently providing for your customers and is reflective of the quality of your service. Including a blog or latest news can also mean content can be used throughout newsletters and social media further contributing to establishing a unified and well-structured business.

 

Final Thoughts:

According to Hubspot, ROI is likely to increase by an average of 13x for companies who prioritise blogging. Latest news and blogging sections have proven to have a positive impact on conversion rates as consumer appreciate the time and effort you are willing to put in for their benefit.

Case Studies vs Testimonials vs Reviews

Case Studies vs Testimonials vs Reviews: Which are better?

As a business, you want your audience to fully understand what you do and what it’s like to work with you, whilst building up a certain level of trust. This is why case studies, testimonials and reviews are an important aspect of any business, but which is better?

After all, you want to attract an audience and potential clients, so choosing the right way to communicate your work and reputation is important for success and growth.

What is a case study?

A case study is a qualitative research technique that looks at a project as a whole. It will generally include an in-depth description of the client’s situation, any challenges, the process and the outcome. (See example)

What is a testimonial?

A testimonial is a statement made either verbally or in written form to testify a business’s services. (See example)

What is a review?

A review is someone’s evaluation of a business or product whether their opinions are positive or negative. (See example)

When deciding what is best to use for marketing your business, the answer is it all depends. Case studies, testimonials and reviews are all useful in their own way and can each provide a different level of communication about a business, product or service.

It all comes down to what the customer is wanting to gain, for example, if someone wants to understand a particular service in detail, they may find a case study extremely useful and informative. However, for someone wanting to find out ratings and reviews, a case study may be easily dismissed due to the amount of content and detail included.

When is it best to use case studies?

Case studies are great for websites as information can be conveyed in an engaging way and also include links to projects you’ve worked on. If someone is taking the time to look through your website or even a brochure for that matter, they are generally looking for an indicator that the work you offer is what they are looking for. They may also want to see the different types of work you carry out and how you have handled past projects.

When is it best to use testimonials?

Testimonials are also great for websites as they convey customer and client feedback in a way that is quick and easy to digest. Testimonials can also be shared across social media platforms as a way to promote your product or service, and even in printed marketing materials.

When is it best to use reviews?

Public reviews are great for any business or service as many potential customers will go there first to see what people are saying. Google reviews and social media reviews are very commonly used as they are as honest as can be, whereas a testimonial has effectively been cherry-picked by a business.

Overall, the power of a case study, testimonial and review depends on your target audience, if people are looking for indicators of trust, and how up-to-date the information is. Although a case study seems the best way to show off your service, it might not always have the same pulling effect as a review or testimonial that is quick to read.

Tips for driving more website traffic

The two main things you need to do if you want to drive more traffic to your website are: 1. optimise and 2. be active. Website optimisation helps you attract the customers looking for your services and being active helps you find them. How?

 

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Optimisation

Optimisation covers several aspects and involves website optimisation, content optimisation and mobile optimisation. All three are equally important and help your website be better ranked on search engines, easily found and readable for visitors.

Content optimisation covers keyword research and targeting, which enable you to write readable and well-targeted content that complies with SEO rules. Effective website content needs to be written for both search engines (the right keywords and keyword density) and for the visitors (again – the right keywords used in well-structured sentences that convey the right message directed at your target audience).

 

Mobile optimisation is also very important nowadays, which was not the case a few years ago. Optimising your website for mobile devices will help your website get better rankings because search engines rank responsive websites better, but this will also help your mobile visitors access and surf your website easily. One of our clients, Abbey Masterbatch,  approached us recently because they needed to make their website responsive and this helped the increase the volume of website visits by 25%.

 

Website optimisation is a general term and a properly optimized website will be optimized both in terms of content and mobile. However, there a few more things to look at when working on website optimisation – meta titles / descriptions, H1 tags, website speed, etc.. there is a number of useful tools that you can use to test your website and see how much it scores and understand the tests it is failing so you can improve these aspects. The tool I recommend is SEO Site Checkup – it is quite simple and easy to use plus it provides useful tips on how to fix things and make your website SEO compatible.

 

Being Active

Being active in terms of online and offline marketing or social media will give your website (and business) a voice. This will help you be heard or noticed and most importantly, it will engage your audience. More social activity is an effective way of attracting new customers and a great side of it – it allows you to be less formal if you choose that style of communication.

 

 

 

Hope you find my tips useful. If you’d like to read about how to increase online sales, here is an interesting post by Crazy Egg.

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Is a picture worth a thousand words?

According to the age old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

And, in today’s technologically advanced world, it’s a statement that continues to spark much debate as the way we consume information is continuing to change.

For example, the advent of the digital world means that information is now delivered in a wide range of different formats including pictures and videos, which are also prominent across social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

And with more businesses than ever before utilising new media technologies and creating an impact with new communication methods, it has once again raised the question whether a picture is worth a thousand words!

After all… pictures and videos can be far more impactful than text heavy content, especially in the fast paced digital world where content is digested quickly and updated at a rapid pace, leaving businesses little time to make an impact with the content they post and share.

But this is not to say that text is not equally important!

After all, you could have an all singing, all-dancing website or a professional social media page full of engaging content, but if the text accompanying your image is not up to scratch, the image can lose its impact. And remember, hiring a professional copywriter to create impactful, engaging and persuading content that will not only inspire action, but will also increase the credibility of your brand, is always a wise option.

This is because a website that is littered with errors or poor grammar can actually deter people from investing in your product or service!

Research has also revealed that 80% of the activities we do online are text based, so it’s vital that text is not overlooked in exchange for images.

For example although images can bring a story to life, so can words, and the vast majority of information or news is delivered far more effectively with text.

However, it’s important to note that one of the main problems with using text to deliver a news story or information is that the human brain finds it difficult to consume large bulks of text. So, the key is to keep text to a minimum, without compromising on the quality or missing out key details.

With this in mind, there is a clear difference in the way we consume and process both images and text, which is why both must work hand in hand to create an effective piece of content that will engage, inspire action and capture your target market.

And of course, words have been around for millions of years, and universally are understood around the globe. So, it’s highly likely that they will ever be replaced.

Improving Readability on Your Website

In an attempt to create a website that converts, people sometimes focus too much on the design, features, layout and other aesthetic aspects that do help conversions but are not crucial for it. What’s crucial when it comes to creating a website that converts visitors into customers is related to its content and readability.

 

readability

 

Fonts

The most important aspects of fonts are type and size. There are so many interesting font types which are not readable and choosing the font based on the looks while overseeing the readability can cost a business a large volume of sales. The easily readable fonts are Arial, Helvetica, Lucida Sans, Verdana, Trebuchet and they also look amazing.

Paragraphs and Bullet Points

Breaking down large content into paragraphs makes reading more comfortable for your visitors and in case you need to list or itemise certain things, I’d recommend using bullet points. When people visit your website for the first time, they usually just scan through the website looking for the most important information and if your website does not offer this, they will lose interest and leave the website.

To the point

Most visitors tend to be lazy and look for quick answers to their questions and if your website’s content is not concise, the visitors might lose focus and become uninterested in what they are reading. Concise and to the point content is what sells best and it is very important to remember when working on your website copy.

Visuals

Visual elements of a website come in quite handy when you want to draw visitor’s attention to certain parts of your website.  Using interesting images, videos, illustrations or even call to action buttons will help your visitors find relevant information in a matter of seconds and that’s exactly what you need. A website that successfully uses visual elements to draw visitors’ attention to relevant information and headings is ACS Installations, a London based company specializing in air conditioning installations, repairs and maintenance.

Interpretation vs Translation – What’s the difference?

Though interpreting and translation are related and many people use them interchangeably, they are two quite different linguistic disciplines. The two differ in the medium, processes and skills which will be explained in more detail in this post.

interpreting and translation

 

Interpreting

According to Globalization and Localization Association, interpreting is the process of rendering a spoken (or signed) message into another spoken (or signed language). Basically, it is paraphrasing which requires expertise in the subject matter and knowledge of cultures involved, however, the required level of accuracy is somewhat lower than what’s expected in the process of translation. There are 5 main modes of interpreting and these are  as follows:

  • Consecutive interpreting – the interpreter interprets the message after source-language speaker has stopped speaking
  • Simultaneous interpreting – the interpreter interprets the message in the target-language at the same time as the source-language speaker is speaking.
  • Escort/travel interpreting – the interpreter accompanies travellers on their trips and to meetings
  • Whisper interpreting – similar to simultaneous interpreting, howeve,r the interpreter is sitting next to the person they interpret for
  • Scheduled Phone or over-the-Phone interpreting – can be both consecutive and simultaneous and the interpreter interprets via telephone
  • On-demand phone Interpreting – it is conducted over the phone and with this approach, an interpreter can be found in a matter of minutes

 

Interpreters need to able to translate in both directions on the spot, meaning that this profession requires outstanding listening abilities.

Translation

Translation is the process of rendering text from a source language into a target language. It is a written process that requires extraordinary cultural skills and the ability to understand both the source language and the culture of the source-language country. The accuracy is crucial in the process of translation and so is the translator’s ability to write well and accurately in the target language.

Wrap up

Knowing the difference will hopefully help you understand which of these services would be more suitable for your needs and requirements. If you are looking for either interpreting or translation services, I’d recommend ITL, owned by Grace Tia Bon Bon – they are highly professional and offer all sorts of interpreting and translation services.

Tips for Finding a Good Locksmith

Very few of us plan on finding the right locksmith service before an urgent situation actually happens. Imagine yourself in a stressful situation of being locked outside your home and losing the home keys. Or locking your car without checking the keys when you need to rush to work. Would you have enough time to research your options and make sure you find the best locksmith, or would you be focusing on finding the quickest solution and potentially compromise on quality?

For this reason, we should all prepare for an emergency situation and find a good locksmith before we urgently need one. Here are a few tips on the most important things to consider when looking for a locksmith.

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24-hour Service

It is very important to choose a locksmith whose services are available to you 24 hours a day. Admittedly, there are some things that you can plan and schedule – when you need to replace, fix or change your doors for example, however, not knowing a good locksmith when you urgently need one can be a real nightmare.

Friends’ Recommendation

Asking your friends, family or acquaintances to recommend a good locksmith service can be a good starting point. Their recommendation should guarantee the quality of the service and reliability too, however, if they do not know of any locksmiths they can recommend, you will have to rely on your own resourcefulness.

Your Area

A very important point – you need to find a locksmith that covers your area. If you live in the North East for example, I’d recommend Newcastle Locksmiths because they are fast, reliable and available 24 hours a day, plus they cover Newcastle upon Tyne,  Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne Valley.

Locksmiths with Multiple Services

Finding a locksmith that provides multiple services such as residential, commercial locksmith and lock repair services, is very important because you can’t know what you will need a locksmith for next time.

Trustworthiness

Everybody wants to work with a trustworthy business. Whether you run a business or need to hire a company to help you with your personal needs, trustworthiness (and quality of course) is something you should never compromise on. So, make sure the locksmith you choose is an established and trustworthy business you will be able to trust and work with for a long time.

Research and Compare

Now that you have several potential locksmiths on your list, some of which may have come from a friend, some you may have found on the internet, you need to compare their services/prices and choose the one that seems the best. Though the ones offering their services at the lowest price might seem attractive, please remember to consider the reliability and overall quality of their service.

PR and Crisis Management

According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, PR or Public Relations is the process of building a reputation through what you say, do or through what others say about you. It is very important to point out that it is a strategic communication process that helps companies and organisations build relationships with their publics. Crisis management is a process in public relations by which an organization deals with a sudden emergency situation that might threaten its reputation.

Basically, both public relations and crisis management are about an organization’s reputation, the former focusing on building and managing that reputation year-round while the latter focuses on salvaging the reputation when a crisis hits.

PR crisis management is more than strategy management during a crisis; every company that values its reputation and cares about the relationship with its publics, manages its reputation proactively, showing the society its positive impacts all the time, not just in times of crisis.

A part of that proactive approach to PR crisis management is planning the necessary steps and actions to be taken even before a crisis event occurs. Planning and monitoring are what enables organizations to effectively and efficiently react in real time when a crisis hits. Every PR professional knows that fast response and reaction are a critical issue, so sharing as much information as possible in the earliest crisis phase is highly recommended – be it via social media, press releases or any other channel. Finally, being honest in times of crisis helps organisations build trust and credibility, which are the most important elements of reputation.

 

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Examples

There are many examples of how organizations handled crisis management, some were successful and some unfortunately – not so much. One of the most popular examples of successful crisis management is Pepsi in 1993. It started with claims of syringes being found in diet Pepsi cans. Pepsi urged stores not to remove the product during the investigation. The organisation released a video showing the production process and demonstrating that such tampering was impossible in their factories. Another video was also released later, showing surveillance from a convenience store where a woman was inserting a syringe into a can. The crisis having been resolved, Pepsi ran a series of campaigns, thanking the public for standing by the corporation.

Another not so successful example of crisis management is Exxon. In 1989, an Exxon Corporation’s tanker ran aground in the Prince William Sound in Alaska. Millions of gallons of crude oil were spilled into the waters off Valdez, killing thousands of fish, otters and other sea animals. Miles of coastline were polluted. Exxon apparently did not have a plan in place (or it was not a good one) so they did not deal with the media and the public; There was no communication plan and Exxon only appointed a public relations manager 4 years after the incident, when it was too late.

Wrap up

PR crisis management is about being prepared and about planning. The truth is, an organization can never truly and fully prepare for a crisis, but doing something for society through the good and bad times or having positive social and economic impact immensely helps an organization’s reputation.

If you need any PR services including online PR, media relations, internal communication, crisis management or similar, I recommend M.A.D Communications, a Newcastle PR agency. They are a group of dedicated, highly-skilled, and passionate professionals and I working with them has been a true pleasure.